How to muster the courage for positive change

Elina Landman for Medium
People decide to make big life changes for all sorts of reasons. But before you dive into these changes, you've got to get your head in the game, take those initial steps, and ask yourself some important questions.

When you're starting over with a clean slate, those old habits of yours have a sneaky way of tugging you back, trying to convince you that everything should stay the same. It's not time that magically fixes things; it just fills your memory with new stuff. The two main ingredients for a fresh start are change and embracing it. Surprisingly, the dilemmas, tensions, and inner conflicts that pop up during these times aren't your enemies; they're a chance for you to get to know yourself better. The clash of thoughts, ideas, and values is what helps us grow and think. Once you get that, you'll see that moving forward means learning from the past.
Now, how do you even start this journey to a new phase in life, and what steps can you take to trust in your own abilities? Think about whether there's any unfinished business or relationship issues to sort out. It makes sense to figure out why you're lugging around that heavy bag of negative experiences from the past and how to avoid making the same mistakes if part of your not-so-great history is tagging along into your new life. You can't change the past, but it can be a guide for shaping your future.

The trick to choosing the right path is to get your thoughts in order. In reality, it's not as simple as it sounds. When you're at a crossroads, it's tough to focus on just one thing. Usually, you want a total life makeover all at once. But you'll need a bit of patience.

Write down what lights up your life, what brings a smile to your face, and what gets you out of bed with a skip in your step. Be honest and let's keep it about you, not anyone else. When you start digging for answers to these questions, it can feel a bit like hunting for buried treasure. But if you can pinpoint those answers, you'll get a better grasp of your own set of values.

Once you've got your values squared away, you can start building small, short-term actions. That's your first baby step toward a fresh start. Defining your values helps you see what you're aiming for. It also has a magical way of taming those nagging fears that held you back for so long. Sure, not everything will work out perfectly on your first or second try, but once you see the first glimmers of success, that feeling of overcoming yourself will be your biggest cheerleader.

Remember, your new path should be all about you, not how others are living their lives. We can't tweak someone else's experience to fit our own needs. Sure, you can take notes, maybe even try to do things better, but your journey will always have its own unique twists and turns. While we might share some similarities, our dreams and aspirations are wonderfully diverse. The common thread is our ability to prioritize when we're embarking on a new phase in life. But hey, there'll be moments when you feel like you "can't," like you're drowning in "can'ts" and whatnot. That's when you bust out a list of priorities for the changes you're after.

This list might have a lot of little sub-items, but remember, you've already set the gears in motion for a mighty transformation. You're getting to know yourself better, embracing who you are, and that's no small feat. It's a huge, important step.

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